“We won’t tolerate that one can try to play Russian roulette with the lives of innocent civilians.”
EU council chief Charles Michel on the arrest of an opposition figure after the diversion of a passenger jet to Belarus.
Police arrested an opposition figure of the Belarus president after his flight was diverted.
may 24, 2021
- Background: Belarus is a nation that borders Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Russia - Russia remains its most powerful ally.
- The commercial flight was flying from Greece to Lithuania on Sunday when it was diverted to the Belarus' capital because of a bomb threat.
- One of the plane's passengers: Raman Pratasevich, sometimes described as a journalist, activist and blogger, who organized widespread protests against president in Belarus. This led the Belarusian government to label him an extremist. After landing, police arrested Pratasevich and his girlfriend.
- The plane had between 120 and 180 passengers. No bomb was found.
- Passenger sitting in front of Pratasevich: "He freaked out when the pilot said the plane is diverted to Minsk. He said there’s death penalty awaiting him there..." The Associated Press said he faces 15 years in prison on charges of inciting mass riots and fanning social hatred, but has not confirmed Pratasevich's claim he may be executed.
Why It Matters: Europeans leaders call this event a hijacking - alleging members of the Belarusian KGB (KGB = Soviet secret service) of assisted in the targeting of this plane, for the purpose of attaining this 26-year-old. The European Union has imposed sanctions following the diversion, banning Belarus' airlines from using its airports and airspace.